Following the recent evacuation of the entire population of the island of Ambae in Vanuatu, Motivation Australia has been working alongside our Ni-Vanuatu partners the Vanuatu Society for Persons with Disabilities (VSPD), the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Justice; and faith based organisation the Latter-day Saints (LDS); to assist in meeting the mobility device needs of evacuees.
A group of 274 people identified as needing additional support during the evacuation are now situated at an evacuation centre rapidly set up within the grounds of the LDS church on the island of Santo.
With instruction from the Health Cluster; and assistance from the LDS; Motivation Australia and VSPD began work last week in preparing wheelchairs and walking aids to be transported to Santo. These products arrived yesterday, and provision of mobility devices to those who need them has begun. At the same time, more detailed screening of evacuees is being carried out at the 74 evacuation centres on Santo, Maewo and Pentacost.
We are working to ensure that the devices provided meet the needs of evacuees now, and on their eventual return to Ambae. This means taking the time to properly talk with each person to understand their needs, and to make sure that devices are assembled, fitted and adjusted correctly.
The Government of Vanuatu has extended the State of Emergency until the 24th October, following advice from the Disaster Management Office. A thorough assessment of Ambae is needed to ensure that it is safe for people to return.